Folic acid fortification prevents neural tube defects (NTDs) and may also reduce cancer risks
Acta Pediatrica, 07/16/2012
Jägerstad M – Evidence–based NTD prophylaxis is now practiced in more than 60 countries worldwide. EU countries worry over possible cancer risks but ignore a wealth of studies reporting decreasing cancer risks with folate intakes at recommended levels. Currently, there are indications of a U–shaped relationship, i.e. higher cancer risks at low folate intakes (<150 ug/day) and highly elevated folate intakes (> 1 mg/day), respectively.
- The prevalence of NTD-affected pregnancies ranges between 0.4 - 2/1000 pregnancies in EU.
- NTDs result in severe malformations and sometimes miscarriages.
- Children born with NTD suffer for the rest of their life of disability and chronic health care issues and many women therefore choose termination of pregnancy if NTD is diagnosed prenatally.
- Women planning for pregnancy are recommended to eat 400ug folic acid/d whereas average figures across Europe indicate intakes of -250ug/d for women of fertile age, a gap that could be bridged by implementation of folic acid fortification.
- The results of mandatory folic acid fortifications introduced in USA and Canada are a decrease between 25-45% of NTD pregnancies.